Published: Saturday, January 24, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 23, 2004 at 10:10 p.m.

Wall Street mixed as investors lock in gains

  • NEW YORK - Wall Street was mixed in choppy trading Friday as investors pocketed profits and braced for a slew of earnings next week. The Nasdaq composite index ticked higher for the day, but a blue chip sell-off snapped an eight-week winning streak for the Dow Jones industrial average.
    Analysts were not overly concerned about the day's losses. Strong corporate earnings, low interest rates, good housing numbers and an improving jobs picture have gotten 2004 off to a very good start, said Barry Berman, head trader for Robert W. Baird & Co. in Milwaukee.
    The Dow closed down 54.89, or 0.5 percent, at 10,568.29, for a weekly loss of 0.3 percent.
    The Nasdaq closed up 4.86, or 0.2 percent, at 2,123.87, but was down 0.8 percent for the week after six straight weeks of gains. The Standard & Poor's 500 index closed down 2.39, or 0.2 percent, at 1,141.55, but was 0.1 percent higher for the week - its ninth straight weekly advance in a row.

    Alltel plans job cuts; posts quarterly profits

  • LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Alltel Corp. said Friday it will eliminate as many as 600 jobs, or 3 percent of its work force, even as it reported a fourth-quarter earnings increase that met Wall Street expectations.
    The elimination of between 400 and 600 positions comes as Alltel makes regional and corporate structural changes expected to be in place late next month.
    Alltel said it will take a one-time charge of $15 million in its first quarter and save about $20 million in 2004 with the job cuts. It did not say how many of the cuts will result in employees being laid off. The reorganization will consolidate some oversight of wireless and wireline segments, officials said. The announcement came as Alltel said it earned $258.9 million, or 83 cents a share, in the October-December period, up from $256.6 million, or 82 cents a share, a year ago.

    Regions, Union Planters announce merger plans

  • NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Regions Financial Corp. and Union Planters Corp. have agreed to merge in a $6 billion deal that creates a Southeastern banking powerhouse.
    The agreement, announced Friday, continues the consolidation of the U.S. banking industry and would create the nation's 12th-largest bank holding company in total deposits. The new company will be known as Regions Financial Corp. It will have total assets of $81 billion, total deposits of $56 billion, 5.1 million customers, 1,400 branches, 1,700 ATMs and more than 140 brokerage offices across 15 states from Texas to the Atlantic coast.
    Its banking operations will be based in Birmingham, Ala., where Regions is currently based. Union Planters is currently based in Memphis.
    Morgan Keegan's brokerage operations, acquired by Regions in 2001, and the combined mortgage business, will be headquartered in Memphis.
    "The combination of our two companies will create a new regional force in the banking and financial services industry and further our respective strategic objectives," said Carl E. Jones Jr., chairman, president and chief executive of Regions.

    Northwest profits from asset sales

  • MINNEAPOLIS - Because of asset sales and other one-time gains totaling $492 million, Northwest Airlines turned in a profitable fourth quarter.
    For the quarter ended Dec. 31, Northwest reported net income of $370 million, or $4.18 per share, in contrast with a loss of $488 million, or $5.68 per share, a year earlier.
    Without the unusual gains, Northwest lost $129 million, or $1.49 a share for the quarter, an improvement from the loss of $178 million, or $2.08 per share, reported a year earlier, excluding unusual items.
    The results were 10 cents a share better than the consensus $1.59 a share loss estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial.
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